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14 May 2004

Close U.S.-Iraqi Military Relationship Expected After June 30

Coalition Provisional Authority Report, May 14: Iraq Update

A Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) spokesman sought to clarify the relationship between coalition military forces and the Iraqi interim government after June 30.

At a news briefing in Baghdad May 14, CPA Senior Adviser Dan Senor said that coalition forces "technically have a legal right to remain in Iraq through the constitutional process under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1511." However, he also said the CPA does not anticipate that being an issue since "to my knowledge ... U.S. forces never stay in a foreign country ... if we are not wanted."

Senor said the United States anticipates "a close partnership" with the new Iraqi interim government and "the majority of Iraqis (leaders) we deal with anticipate a close partnership."

Senor said there was agreement that "there will be a significant terror threat here post-June 30th." The Iraqi Security Forces will not be in a position to defend against it, he said, "so there will be a (continued) need for U.S. forces. There seems to be a real consensus around that."

Senor stressed that the CPA "is not conducting its own investigation" into Iraqi abuses that occurred under the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program. "We are facilitating the work of the Board of Supreme Audit(s)," he said. "We consider the Board of Supreme Audits' examination of alleged Oil-for-Food abuses to be another important and concrete step toward returning sovereignty to Iraqi officials...."

Also at the briefing, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of coalition operations for Combined Joint Task Force 7, said that 293 prisoners were released at Abu Ghraib May 14. He said the next prisoner release will occur on May 21 with the anticipated release of 475 prisoners, including 22 prisoners whose release was delayed temporarily.

Turning to the military situation, Kimmitt said coalition forces at Najaf responded to several attacks by Muqtada al-Sadr's militia. The first attack came shortly before 0700 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), with mortar rounds fired at the main Najaf police station while two tanks came under fire while passing through a traffic circle.

After further attacks at 0800 and 0930 GMT, Kimmitt said, coalition forces located an enemy 60-millimeter mortar position and rocket-propelled grenade teams inside a cemetery. He said that helicopters "were unable to engage the enemy due to [enemy] proximity to the Ali shrine," so ground troops were called in, and they "engaged and destroyed the mortar teams" just after 1100 GMT.

Kimmitt also said charges were referred against an Army specialist who will be arraigned along with two Army sergeants in May, with all three facing court-martial proceedings.

The full transcript of the CPA briefing is available on the Web at: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2004/tr20040514-0751.html